Israel, Jewish Groups Dismiss Iran-Argentina “Truth Commission”
Several Jewish groups have expressed their outrage at a report that the Argentine and Iranian foreign ministers have signed an agreement to create the “Commission of Truth,” an independent group that will investigate the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded 300.
“The creation of this ‘Commission of Truth’ seems like another way for Iran to push its influence on South America,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Iran has never had any interest in bringing terrorists to justice and it’s not going to start here. This suggests an Iranian propaganda move aimed at covering up actions and directives made by senior leaders in the country.”
Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued a joint-statement that read in part:
“Argentina’s apparent willingness to collaborate with the Iranian regime’s nearly 20-year effort to evade being brought to justice under the Argentine criminal justice system is deeply disturbing.
“This latest maneuver by Iran with shocking cooperation of the government of Argentina sets up an extrajudicial process which will further delay, and may even eliminate, the possibility of bringing the accused Iranian perpetrators of the terrorist attack to justice under Argentine law. We call on President Kirchner to reconsider this affront to the victims and survivors and to the criminal justice system of Argentina.”
According to official sources, the Commission will be composed of five “independent members”, plus two selected by Buenos Aires and Tehran respectively, to analyze data submitted by Argentina and Iran. A report with recommendations to both parties would then be issued and a joint panel would then interrogate the suspects sought by INTERPOL. The agreement would be submitted to each country’s legislature for ratification. INTERPOL authorities would be kept informed.
“This deal is a whitewash for terrorism,” argued Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“How is it possible to reach an understanding to solve the case with those who have denied any involvement in the bombing? Whose legal standards are going to prevail? What level of trust can anyone have in a totalitarian regime that has no respect for human rights?” added Sergio Widder, the Center’s Director for Latin America.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreigns Affairs also expressed its disappointment. An MFA spokesperson said in a statement that “Israel is clearly and understandably concerned by the matter,” while also adding that “this recent agreement raises severe questions: it establishes a committee whose recommendations are non-mandatory, and it provides the country which all the evidence points at, namely Iran, with the capacity to delay indefinitely the committee’s works. It is doubtful whether this is how justice will be rendered.”